Tom Lehrer once observed that “political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Prize.” Despite the urban legend, this isn’t what prompted him to retire, as he explains here, where he also makes some observations on the problems of satire in the modern world, including: “everything is so weird in politics that it’s very hard to be funny about it.”
In recent US election cycles, where even weirder things are afoot and some folks’ grip on reality is extremely tenuous at the best of times, while others of us are having the boundaries of what we consider feasible in the political arena expanded by the hour, perils abound.
For example, some on the left have apparently taken Politico’s Roger Simon’s transparently snarky article from yesterday, “Paul Ryan vs. The Stench”, at face value, and seem to buy into the idea that Hottie McStudMunster is now literally in the habit of referring to his running mate as “Stench.” You can take issue with Simon’s abilities as a satirist, and even his omission of any overt flag to indicate that he wasn’t being entirely serious, but had his words appeared in The Onion rather than Politico, the situation might have been clearer. The fact that people thought this was a plausible story is far funnier than the story itself, but less funny than the absolutely OUTRAGED reactions of some of the commenters at Simon’s Politico article.
Now, there are times when it may suit people to wilfully misinterpret snark as truth. For instance, back in 2008, when Larry Johnson at No Quarter was furiously pushing the “Whitey Tape” fiction for all it was worth, Booman wrote a post that I’ve always interpreted as snark-tinged, which included this passage:
From what I understand, it is a tape of Michelle Obama criticizing the Bush administration.
How you’d write it:
Why did Bush cut folks off medicaid?
Why did Bush let New Orleans drown?
Why did Bush do nothing about Jena?
Why did Bush put us in Iraq for no reason?
How you’d say it:
Why’d he cut folks off medicaid?
Why’d he let New Orleans drown?
Why’d he do nothing about Jena?
Why’d he put us in Iraq for no reason?
How Larry Johnson wants you to hear it:
Whitie cut folks off medicaid?
Whitie let New Orleans drown?
Whitie do nothing about Jena?
Whitie put us in Iraq for no reason?
When I read that, I laughed. But it didn’t stop PUMAs and their ilk and fellow travelers taking it as Booman confirming that the tape actually existed, and posting selective quotes in every comment stream they could find, even while other well-meaning folks on the left quoted it as an explanation that Michelle Obama had been misunderstood, in the process implying that the tape did exist. A lot of good it did them in the end, but I’m sure you’ll still find some who believe it’s only a matter of time before it finally emerges on Fox, given that we’re apparently now at such a desperate stage in the election that the much-maligned Reverend Wright is again featuring in their output.
The first thing he said during their debate was that she clearly did not look like she had native American ancestry. It’s astonishing that someone would rely so thoroughly on an attack on Dr. Warren’s credibility-especially if it could be shown that her recollection is true, and her family can trace back to a Native American ancestor Which it looks like they can.
This lets her retaliate that Sen Brown is attacking her family.
Wow. He’s a jackass. Maybe he might have wanted to stick to the issues?
Naaaahahahhahahah. Pro-tip to future campaigns—as fake scandals and YouTube and Twitter conversations get mainstreamed, any smear should be pre-fact-checked. It might even be preferable to run campaigns on substance than attempting a smear—because of blowback..
Wait, wait. Before I get into the whole Romney mishegas more than I want to—but as much as I have to, being a political blogger, can I just start with the running mate story? M’kay. Here’s a perfectly well-programmed Randroid getting booed for lying in front of people who are old enough to know better than he probably ever will:
I understand his own mama was in the audience. and some of the seniors walked out on his ass. Somehow, Lyin’ Ryan and his mam benefited from government survivor benefits just enough for him to want to fiddle with them to make them dependent on market forces and less available to people who could use them. Obama is leading Romney in Wisconsin per the polls. That’s all I have to say about all that.
But when I’m not mentioning that Romney relied on a rock star privatization/supply side ideologue to be his running mate to give him a boost with a base that distrusts him—why don’t I point out that they still don’t love him enough to refrain from talking shit about him? Because Herman Cain just did:
“Stupid people are ruining America, and we’ve got to take it back,” he said.
Cain told members of the media after the speech that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s recent “47 percent” comment was a “non-story” being blown out of proportion by the media. But Cain said he would have been doing better if he was the nominee, saying that he’d probably have a “substantial lead” on President Barack Obama at this point.
“The reason is quite simple: I have some depth to my ideas,” he said.
Yeah. The guy who gave us the “999” plan and said he wouldn’t sign any bill more than three pages long, believes he has more depth to his ideas. Because, of course, he would handle the Libya situation that much better. And of course he wouldn’t be as especially crass in his language about the poor in America. By which I mean—seriously, whatever. The Hermanator isn’t running for president—Mitt is.
So, I think that Romney had a Friday doc-dump of his 2011 return and a notarized statement about his previous 20 years of returns is one ginormous subject-changing.30-second over the pants handjob. I expect there to be more educated opinions than mine, but I would say that even if he paid taxes as attested, he did release the info when he said he wouldn’t—didn’t he? Huh? Right. And folks are picking over it, such as it is, huh? Also right.
Does it distract from whether he’s still a bloody awful candidate with a rotten campaign going on? Not especially. It’s like proof of it. Cheers.
Now, I think Romney should be aware that Obama put the “stopgap measure” to not deport those who fit into the DREAM Act demographic in place because the congressional Republicans blocked the DREAM Act in 2010 and were unlikely to do shit during Obama’s first term. That’s just where it’s at. When Romney says he wouldn’t “round up” and deport people—he’s saying he’d do the same thing (because he’s in front of a Latino audience) but he wouldn’t codify it (because his broader audience is assumed to be bigoted against immigrants). This is typical Romney mush, and it isn’t even funny in light of his recent videotaped* joke that he’d have an easier time getting elected if he really did have Mexican heritage. (Like all those other Hispanic presidents we had, Mitt?. Jorge Arbusto an’all them? Oh wait—I get it! Our current president is a person of color. Pro-tip: That joke doesn’t play in all venues.)
Anyhoo, since I’m a ridiculous catty humanoid—was it the lighting, the make-up, or am I seeing stuff? Tan in a can for the man to make him less bland? A total plan? Or widely panned?
* I turned 40 on Tuesday. I originally typed “videotaped”, realized it was technologically incorrect, and then said, “Screw it.” In my day, we had VHS camcorders, and they weighed a ton, and we liked them. You couldn’t surreptitiously tape a blindfolded person popping bubblewrap from 40 paces, let alone capture 70 minutes of sheer capitalist wankery unawares. The pictures I take with my phone look like bad Polaroids.*
*Polaroids—why Granny doesn’t have any baby pictures that survived 5 decades in a shoe box, I’m afraid.
Republican Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign is $11 million in debt after it borrowed $20 million in August to pay for expenses before it could tap into general election dollars.
Here’s more from National Review Online, which first reported the story:
“Before the Republican National Convention, Mitt Romney was the Republican nominee in all but name. By law, however, he could only spend primary donations until he officially became nominee. To increase cash flow during the interregnum, the Romney campaign borrowed $20 million.”
A senior Romney aide told NRO that they collateralized the debt with $20 million of general election funds already in the campaign’s bank account.
Now, if the debt was collateralized with an equivalent amount of funds already received—is it really debt? Or is it only debt when possible future Romney contributors determine that they will not blow their hard-earned ducats on a losing cause?
The reason I ask this is because the Romney campaign has been a really rugged affair. Looking at the backstory, we have Romney as taking a backseat in the polls to Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain during the early primary jostling, and these are not especially gifted politicians. His front-runnerdom also suffered the anticipation of a possible white knight figure come to save the GOP from himself, whether in the form a a Wonk in Shining Armor like Mitch Daniels, or a Beast from Back East like Chris Christie. And the narrative about Mitt was that he’d catch on, even while Newt Gingrich (beaming in from the 1990’s) and Rick Santorum (beaming in from the 1600’s) threatened his nomination.
But surely, once he became front-runner, he’d take off? Or once he’d executed a friendly world tour? Or rather, once he picked a running mate, like rock star Paul Ryan? Or rather, wouldn’t he get a bump from the convention?
Go ahead, guys. Fund-raise on that. Romney is very cool in front of many people. And Obama reads from a Teleprompter, doesn’t he? Of course Mitt Romney will finally connect with the American people, after dismissing half of them, once he’s got President Obama right there….able to counter the untrue things Romney says.
Move over Spidey, there’s another superhero on the block! Having lurked under a secret identity among us since he landed from the planet Kolob and was adopted by his Earth parents (take that, birfers!), he’s just unmasked himself as The Smirking Wimp—SuperMitt!
In his mind. In your lyin’ eyes.
SuperMitt! fell into a quantum anomaly as a child and was bitten on the ass by a temporal paradox! Since then, SuperMitt! has discovered that he has mastery over the very fabric of time and space and other stuff!
Advisers to Mitt Romney on Thursday defended his sharp criticism of President Obama and said that the deadly protests sweeping the Middle East would not have happened if the Republican nominee were president.
Oh, and he has a sidekick, +1, but he doesn’t really do anything except tag along and look purty!
Further superpowers will no doubt come to light as we learn that THERE’S SIMPLY NOTHING SuperMitt! CAN’T DO! I’ve probably missed some already, so help me out here!
After the last 24 hours, I’m afeared to look at what further shrieking outrages either or both parties, or indeed anybody else in the world, have perpetrated, so bring me up to date with all that or anything else you want to talk about.
Meanwhile, if you’re not already signed up for Executive Class at Rumproast, don’t forget that this week offers a rare chance to join our ranks, laugh in the face of CAPTCHA, and hang out in the Rumper Room.
For reasons known only entirely to himself, but about which we can endlessly speculate, Rep. Joe Walsh, former deadbeat dad and non-musical person bearing that name, decided to launch into a little rant that accused Sandra Fluke, former law student, feminist activist, and person who spoke at the DNC, of being a jobless person who wanted the whole country to pay for her birth control. A brief transcript goes something like this:
“Don’t get me wrong, but I’m already paying through the nose because of the bitches. If I’m going to pay anything towards some woman’s anti-rugrat defense—I better be getting laid for it. I don’t even give up a Flurry at the DQ without heavy petting being on the menu”(he didn’t exactly say)—or wait! Here’s what he said:
So at the Democratic Convention Wednesday night their first prime time speaker was Sandra Fluke — Fluke, Fluke, whatever her name is.
Think about this: a 31-32 year old law student who’s been a student for life, who gets up there in front of a national audience and tells the American people,* “I want America to pay for my contraceptives.” You’re kidding me. Go get a job. Go get a job Sandra Fluke.
This is what, I was offended. We’ve got Americans who are struggling. We’ve got parents in this country who are struggling to buy sneakers that their kids can wear to school that just started. We’ve got parents up and down my district who are barely keeping their house. And, and, and, we have to be confronted by a woman, the Democratic Party this is what they stand for. Their going to put a woman in front of us who is complaining that the country — you, me and you — won’t pay the 9 dollars per month to pay for her contraceptives.
How crazy is this? In a way it’s not her fault, because we teach people this stuff. You go back to fairness, we teach young people this. Don’t worry, government will take care of you. You’re having trouble with your student loans? Don’t worry, government will be there for you.
Sigh. I don’t know why this irritates me, except that I do. It’s like this dense wall of all the anti-feminist things, and one person is getting hit with them for no particular reason. Except, in Walsh’s case, it might have something to do with him being in an election race against a female disabled veteran who actually is concerned about more than just what outfit she’ll be wearing (thankyewverramuch) and who. in a just world, would certainly kick his sorry ass up one side and down the other and make him walk off into his uncertain future with a hitch in his giddy-up.
So, rather than speculating upon Sandra Fluke’s getting a job, maybe he should be contemplating what exactly he might do when his salary is no longer provided by taxpayer dollars. One thing he might do is go back to hustling bar bets—as you may have surmised by his demeanor, the hustle is his natural element—and a not-surprising amount of money could be garnered with the old billiard-ball scam. Who knows how many people mistakenly believed he was incapable of stuffing a billiard ball into his mouth and then eating a cheese sandwich! (And you can only imagine how much more successful this particular trick was on his part when he remembered to take the billiard ball out of his mouth before eating the sandwich!)
What he might be wise to not do, however, is continuing to be a misogynist peckerhead. It is unseemly in a person who wants to be taken seriously, amirite?
Yeah, I know, and the Sun rose in the east this morning.
John F. Harris and Alexander Burns choose to join the RW squid cloud that’s desperately trying to obscure addressing Bill Clinton’s masterly takedown of the entire Republican agenda last night with a four-page whinefest:
If you bother to click through, like me you’ll end up mystified about whose verdict this revelation is supposed to portray, other than the authors’, and you’ll find absolutely no evidence at all—not even in obscure links—to bear out its thesis:
Obama and his top campaign aides have engaged far more frequently in character attacks and personal insults than the Romney campaign.
No survey, no comprehensive account of the paid ads and media utterences from either side’s surrogates—it’s just an inconclusive grab-bag of anecdotes and soundbites from a few of the players. It’s as if Harris and Burns came up with what they thought was a clickworthy headline and had to fill in the wordcount to measure.
When there’s a resounding breaking of wind on this scale, the pall wafts far and wide through the Borg ranks, where the guff latches onto the synapses of the loyal footsoldiers that make up Mittens’ online batallions, whereupon they gleefully flap the sheets as if there’s no tomorrow to share the joy with their avid readers. So it is at Hot Air, where Ed Morrissey graces this potboiler with a status it in no way warrants:
For anyone paying attention to the avalanche of character-assassination attacks from Team Obama and its surrogates, today’s Politico analysis hardly comes as a shock.
So now it’s an analysis. Morrissey cites Townhall:
No, the fact that Barack Obama likes to sling mud doesn’t come as a surprise. The fact that the media has begun to notice it? That’s a different story, as Carol Platt Liebau writes at Townhall:
I had to take a break from writing this post to deal with the coughing fit my paroxysms of laughter provoked at the persistent claim that Politico “leans left” (omitting the qualifier “of Pol Pot”), and indeed is considered part of the “media” rather than a wannabe yawnfest of a conservative scandalsheet. It sometimes doesn’t just parrot everything Drudge headlines on a given day, so that’s how low the bar’s set in these circles.
Sorry, I’m a bit busy today with that life/work thing, so I can only base my impressions on Fox Nation, where Stephen Stromberg, kidnapped from the WaPo’s op-ed pages and chained to a desk in the attic at Fox News HQ, reads between the lines of Michelle Obama’s speech last night:
It’s not that Michelle Obama said anything about Mitt Romney.
Right. You sure that echo isn’t the space between your ears, Steve?
She didn’t even mention his name. Not once.
Brutal. She’s obviously playing hardball.
... in one section of her lively and well-delivered primetime speech to the Democratic National Convention Tuesday night, line after line was weighted with biting implications about Romney’s character – and his suitability to serve as president.
Egad. She was probably laboring under the misapprehension she was addressing a political convention.
She argued that presidents makes hard calls by referring to their values, and Barack Obama has the ones you want.
Halp! Where’s Glenn Kessler when you need him?
They also happen to be values that Romney isn’t widely reputed to hold, particularly among the Democratic activists who cheered knowingly at the first lady’s every turn of phrase.
True. I’d never heard “USA, USA” chanted knowingly before, after a pointed remark from a stage, but there it was, plain as the nose on Pinnochio’s face.
Since Steve at Fox Nation’s so exercised about this, we’ll go MSM and break it down into she said/he said.
President Obama “began his career by turning down high-paying jobs.”
Fox Nation said:
Romney began his career by seeking out high-paying jobs.
President Obama knows that “the truth matters.”
Fox Nation said:
Romney’s running mate gave a dishonest speech at the Republican National Convention last week.
President Obama knows that “success isn’t about how much money you make.”
Fox Nation said:
Romney amassed a large fortune, and he’s proud of it.
President Obama knows that in life “you don’t take short-cuts.”
Fox Nation said:
Romney has a Swiss bank account, presumably to avoid paying taxes.
Look, Steve, I’m not sure this is working out as your readership might hope.
So, as Bette notes, the 2012 GOP Convention looms large on the horizon, and I’m sure we’re all agog at the prospect of the week ahead.
We already know the draft platform that’ll be *ahem* revealed at the Convention and that Mitt’ll sign off on because, with typical efficiency, GOP staffers hit “Publish” on an online draft and preempted the heck out of themselves.
We also know the themes of each of the four days:
Planned Convention Schedule
Monday—“We Can Do Better”
Tuesday—“We Built It”
Wednesday—“We Can Change It”
Thursday—“We Believe in America”
Though this, of course, has been subject to last-minute revision following Gov. Rick Scott’s declaration of a State of Emergency, including distribution of sandbags to some of those in the Tampa area, given that Tropical Storm Isaac’s currently bearing down on early-arriving delegates:
Revised Convention Schedule (Outdoors On Roof If Wet)
Monday—“Onward To 2008, Because That Worked Out So Well”
Tuesday—“Let Somebody Else Pick Up The Pieces As Usual”
Wednesday—“We Screwed Everything Up Before, And By Golly, We’ll Do It Again If They Let Us”
Thursday—“We’ll Say Anything”
We also know that Mittens, egged on by Peggy Noonan, is at last exploring his legendary unzipped wisecracky fun side, so there’ll be human touches this year on top of the usual Baboon Choruses of OO-ESS-AY, ritual slutshaming, forced repatriation of any undocumented convention center staff, and all the other palaver.
Mitt and Ann have been busy trialing the all-new GOP Jumbo Salute:
And continuing the elephantine theme, there’ll be some very fetching merchandise for sale:
But, behind the motley masque, what of the behind-the-scenes shenanigans that you may remember I was looking forward to so much as early as May and June. How goes it with the Paulmas?
Rick Wiley, political director of the Republican National Commitee, is REALLY psyched about RoRyMo (Romney-Ryan momentum), PEOPLE!!!1!! Wiley broadcast those heady emotions in a preconvention pep rally memo that went out Friday.
“The Romney-Ryan momentum is building, while the enthusiasm for Obama and Biden dwindles,” Wiley trumpeted (sorry, I couldn’t resist). Evidently, Republican’s are finally working up some enthusiasm for the GOP ticket heading into next week’s hurricane Republican Convention, in Tampa, FL (Rain dates to be announced)
But here’s the best part: Since we all know how Republicans like to cite authoritative sources to back up their claims, Wiley chose the latest swing state poll from Quinnipiac University, CBS News and the New York Times, which just so happens to show President Barack Obama leading in Ohio, Florida and Wisconsin. But since the GOP’s motto is “glass half full,” rather than highlight the gloomy head-to-head numbers from the poll, Wiley focuses on the survey’s findings on voter enthusiasm—a much better picture. The poll showed Republicans with an enthusiasm advantage in all three battleground states.
Personally, I’ll take votes over enthusiasm any day but, what the hell, it’s the weekend . . .